Since I set my bathroom up a few weeks ago and I'm very excited about it I'll add my two cents.
For film development I have a changing bag to load film into my small tank. I only do 35mm and 120 so it works for me. I develop film in my kitchen being very careful about spillage and cleanup.
For printing, I live in a small studio apartment but am blessed with a decent sized bathroom. I move my coffee table, a nice long, light and narrow wood table, into the bathroom. I put my enlarger (a LPL/Saunders C6600 so it's a nice size for my space), timer and paper on the table, put my trays in the bathtub and the safelight goes as far away from my table as possible. It takes me about 10 minutes to setup/takedown. It works fairly well, I have a decent separation of wet and dry. I can sit at the table and lean over, which isn't the most comfortable but it works. For washing I carefully take the print into the kitchen and use the steel sinks.
I get a kick out of people asking "You made that in your bathroom?" when they see a print. And because I have limited storage the enlarger sits out on a table with some of the bits and pieces. Makes for a great, very useful conversation piece for visitors and is a useful reminder to me that there's always a print to be made.
Before I had my dedicated darkroom (which is still quite petite [7'x8'], and if you'd like pictures of it, I'd be glad to send you some), I used to work out of the bathroom. Two of the three bathroom darkrooms I've had were smaller than the dedicated darkroom I have now, especially on the width dimension. To work around this, I put my enlarger on the top shelf of a two-shelf cart, so I could wheel it in and out at will. On the bottom shelf sat my wash tray that would get put in the tub, and my Nova vertical slot processor. The Nova slot processor is gods greatest gift to space-challenged darkroom workers. I was able to print up to 16x20 in black-and-white OR color with it, but it took up less space than a single 16x20 tray. I would set the enlarger on the toilet seat, or leave it on the cart as the situation allowed, then put the Nova processor on the sink. The only hassle in the workflow was transferring the fixed print to the wash tray. It was a single step to the left from the enlarger to the processor, but from the processor to the wash meant turning around and taking three or four steps to the tub with the print that was still dripping fixer.
i will post pics tonight when i get home. i a planning to set her up and print a bit tonight anyway. enlarger on the sink. small card table to hold the trays and was in a tray in the tub.
No pictures here either. I've always had darkrooms in bathrooms. I even set up a darkroom in my bathroom at home once when I was working for a weekly newspaper--their darkroom was a joke and, besides, I could do my processing and printing while sipping a cold one or two if I had the darkroom at home.
My current darkroom is located in a small room adjacent to a small bathroom. It's probably about 5' by 7' in size with one side having the enlarger on a cabinettop, shelves beside and storage above and below. On the other side I have a table for my trays. Although there is running water nearby in the bathroom, it's too small for any actual darkroom work. I load my film in the darkroom and take it to the kitchen to develop and wash. For my prints, I keep them in a holding tray and then take them to the kitchen for washing. I use a Versalab washer on the countertop in the kitchen and drain it into the sink. I've tried washing prints in the shower stall of the bathroom but it's torture on the back--this set up works much better.
This is the smallest darkroom I've ever had in a home bathroom. My first darkroom was set up in the bathroom of a large two story house that had been converted from a single residence to an apartment house. My bathroom had once been the hallway that ran down the middle of the ground floor. It was very long and pretty wide. The only problem with having a darkroom in there was that there were three doors along one wall, all chronically leaking light.
I don't have my wife's digi around, so no pics for now. Sorry. But I hope the following description helps somewhat:
The bathroom in my apartment is small, about 3' wide (excluding the width of the countertop that has the wash basin) and 9.5' long. I have to work at night because the bathroom door is not light-tight, but after all the lights are turned out it's quite dark in there. To keep things simple, I do not develop film and print in the same session.
I develop sheet film in trays, so that is pretty simple. I use an ironing board flush with one wall (opposite the wash basin), and place the developer, stop and fixer trays on this board. At full extension the height of the ironing board is just right for me. The first tray with the water (pre-soak) stays next to the wash basin, on the countertop, on the right; the film holders are on the other side of the wash basin, on the countertop, on the left. So the sequence is: unload -> move right -> pre-soak -> turn 180° -> developer -> move right -> stop -> move right -> fix. All washing is carried out on the bath tub using a Premier Print Washer and a Versalab 11x14 Print Washer (a recent addition).
For a printing session, the enlarger (LPL D6700) moves in and occupies a space next to the ironing board, nearer to the door and further from the bathtub. I use a bar stool, bought from IKEA, to place the enlarger on. The height of the enlarger on this stool is just right for me. The developer, stop and fixer trays occupy the same place on the ironing board - except that a fourth tray is added for the second fixer. The water pre-soak tray is replaced by a tray with the fixer remover, and on the other side of the wash basin there's another tray with the toner. The seventh tray, with the wetting agent, sits on the toilet seat cover. All washing is carried out in the bathtub as before.
Film (sheets) and RC prints are hung to dry over the bathtub; FB prints get squegeed and laid on the kitchen countertop to dry.
The bathroom lights and the exhaust fan operate on the same switch, so to have the fan on with the lights off, the bulbs need to come off. It takes me at least an hour to set everything up, and more to take everything apart. So once the darkroom is setup on Friday evening, it doesn't come off until Sunday morning! It helps that the wife is away in grad school...
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I hope it helps in some way. I'll try to borrow a digicam to get some shots of the setup.
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The smallest darkroom I have ever had was the insides of a large box, which I also slept in; it was attached to a motorcycle. The box replaced the original sidecar that was damaged quite badly after some bodywork done by a tree on an off road excursion. It was a coffin shaped rectangular box with a canvas top; it carried all of my worldly possessions.
On moonless nights camped alongside a river (for water) I draped a canvas over the bike, with two poles between the bike and chair, to give elevation; I had a nice darkish set-up. My enlarger was a small fold down English thing which when folded up, resembled a very small suitcase, the baseboard was one side of the case, I was only using 5x7 paper.
Power was from the bike battery; I had a 6-volt globe in the enlarger, as the bike was a 6-volt system. The safelight was a hurricane lamp with some ruby on a wire frame surrounding it. I could use the battery until it almost went flat as the bike had a magneto system for the ignition. I used a super cheap alarm clock with two bells on it's top, as a timer. It didn't have a second hand, but the ticks were really loud.
I developed in 3, 5x7 Ilford dishes, which I still have. Washing was done in a saucepan picked up from the side of the road, it had no handle.
This was in the late sixties, I still have a few prints, the quality is terrible, but they are pictures that have great memories.
On the road one day, I met up with a couple travelling in a Kombi camper. They had a really good darkroom that packed away in one very small cupboard, which I think was originally a small wardrobe. They were using the same enlarger as I was.
Another time in the mid to late seventies I met a couple of photographers travelling for about 3 months at a time and they used a small lean to tent, as a darkroom on moonless nights as well. I met them again in the early eighties, in the far north of Australia; they were camped alongside a river and were processing E6 films.
One of the really inspirational things I saw them doing, was the heating of the E6 developer in jam jars, by using magnifying glasses focused onto a small piece of steel sitting inside the developer. As the ambient temperature never got below about 24C overnight in the dry season, the solution was already reasonably warm to start with.
I have used wardrobes a lot for darkrooms; they get hot and humid quickly. Many a bathroom has been converted by using three pieces of timber running the length of the bath, on this I hold the dishes, which ran in a row behind the enlarger. Usually the basin is used for washing the prints.
All of my lady friends usually complained about the bathroom being dominated by the photographic equipment, one didn’t, she is now my wife!
My bathroom darkroom
OK Jason, so you're looking for some idea's and images of a genuine bathroom darkroom... Well, since up to now nobody actually posted some pictures, I'll help you out ;-) as I am not to embarrassed about the setup... I think it's a pretty decent darkroom in it's own right. I'm happy with it...
I realize my bathroom is somewhat "non-standard", and that I have been pretty lucky to be able to use such a space. The bathroom is irregular in that is completely enclosed in my small home, hence no windows and therefore no need to blind anything before each printing session. In addition, since the bathroom doesn't feature a toilet, and the former bathtub has been replaced by a less space consuming shower, there is actually plenty of space left, allowing me to make a permanent enlarger setup (actually, I even have two ;-) in there). So also no need to haul in and out a cart with an enlarger. Just pull the door close, and I am up-and-running. Total size of the "bathroom / darkroom" is about 2.2 * 2.5 meters (7' * 8' that is???)
So here it is:
Notice I managed to create a pretty large permanent workbench, made from a regular tabletop reinforced with an extra 2.5 cm wooden plate, to hold the 40+ or so kilo's of the Durst Laborator 1200 and 670BW enlargers.
Also notice I cover up both of my enlargers using plastic bags after each printing session to reduce dust load and maybe some humidity.
As you can see, it's still a fully functional bathroom, with the washing machine below the workbench. My printing "rocks" when it spins
Enlarger heads revealed. Also notice the two 18W fluorescence lighting on the back wall. There is another 36W fluorescence on the left. The 18W's are 6500K, the 36 W is 4200K, mixing into something close to daylight (about 5200K). I regularly switch these on during printing for proper control of correct contrast and printing. This has proven invaluable to me and was one the biggest improvements after the initial setup.
I also have two darkroom safe lights: an Ilford 902 safe light, visible above the L1200, which I use for regular multigrade printing, and a small red safe light bulb (visible in between the fluorescence tubes) for use with liquid photo emulsion (Rollei Black Magic requires red safe lighting).
The "wet section"... 35*45cm tray setup. Notice I managed to cramp in another small workbench in between the ventilation shaft and the wall enclosing my shower. Developer furthest in the back, than stop and fix.
50*60cm tray setup. Notice the laundry basket actually doubles as support for the fixing tray. Well, you wanted a genuine bathroom darkroom! ;-)
The "washing" section. The thermostatic shower supplies 20 degrees water year round.
Papers, chemicals and empty film boxes... Notice the bathroom ventilator. It draws in fresh air through the bathrooms door (I'll go into that with the next images) and keeps moisture levels to an acceptable level. This ventilator is always on during printing and showering, keeping the climate comfortable both for me and the enlargers. Despite three years of printing and showering, no apparent issues with corrosion or mould on the enlargers optics. I make sure the bathroom ventilator runs for another 15 minutes or so after showering...
To get even more bench space, I have fitted another tip-up bench to the wall opposite of the shower, behind the bathroom door. As you can see, I have cut the bench in 45 degrees angle. This allows me to open the door even when the bench is up. This is a nice feature both for safety and convenience.
Also notice the black ventilation grid on the left in the bathroom door. Using insulation tape and strips and black paint, I have managed to make the door practically light safe. However, this also meant poor ventilation. I therefore created a hole in the bathroom door (that actually should have been there in the first place, considering it's an enclosed bathroom!), and covered it up with these grids. However, this is not enough for light safety, so I created an internal "light-block" using black matting carton. This allows fresh air to flow in freely (drawn in by the bathroom ventilator) but effectively blocks all light.
The workbench up, ready to print. Notice the door opening nicely.
RC drying section on washing lines. I dry the FB prints on glass outside the bathroom. Also notice the other 36W fluorescence tube and Ilford safe light and multigrade head.
Last edited by Marco B; 02-09-2008 at 07:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
In a pinch I used to wash prints (11x14 and 16x20) by slapping them to the wall of my shower and aiming the head at them. Smaller ones were done hunched over the bathtub. (makes my back hurt even remembering those days.) I should point out that even though I had 10,000 sq. ft (75 yr old department store), money was tight so for a year I had a darkroom/bathroom/kitchen combo.
Good. Fast. Cheap. (pick any two)
You're welcome to use the photos of my last dark/bathroom in the Darkroom Portraits thread starting here--
If I have a chance I'll try to post some shots of the new setup, but it looks like we're moving again in a few months, so I'll be packing it up again.
There are some pretty nice bathroom setups in this thread. I use my laundry room for my setup and it's been quite effective. Actually, it appears to be really more of a darkroom with a washer and dryer.
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